Posts Tagged: new year

Noshed in a Book: Not That Kind of Girl


Reading is an incredibly intimate and personal act. There are of course other, more obscene ‘intimate and personal’ acts that come to mind as well, like going a day without a couple of bowel movements or blowing your nose with reckless abandon into a dirty t-shirt.  I digress.  I relish in the time I am able to spend reading anything that’s not on a screen.  Yes, you’ve guessed it, I have yet to be converted to e-books and perhaps this day will come, but for now, I find solace in the weight, feel and smell of books, and I can’t see that feeling of comfort ever going away, even if I opt to use an e-reader app someday.

As it is the time of year to make resolutions and embark on goals we set for ourselves, I find the act of making the resolution almost as important, if not more, than following through.  One such goal for me, was to read more books, specifically.  Happily drenched in the cinematic world, much of my extra time becomes devoted to watching films, not reading books.  I want more balance, and thus the goal.

As my reading journey began, I soon realized the innate connection between reading books and eating.  You don’t have to look very far to see the finely paired link between reading and eating when the tone of the book, the location, descriptions of eating, the act of snacking while reading, or binge reading and then making yourself a very satisfying meal after you fasted through four or five chapters, all make it very clear.  It’s intoxicating to read a great book and be enveloped and I feel the same way about a great meal.

I had the lulu at the start of the year, and as an example of the tenacity in my heart–in my feverish state, sprawled out on the sofa snuggled deeply in my cozy–I vaguely remember saying to my husband, “could you do an online search for slang in reference to reading?”  Although the search was a bust, my mind was racing to come up a great pairing of wit and words for what I now hope to be a new series on Connect a Bite, called Noshed in a Book.

Each post will speak to the book I recently finished along with a review and description of the book along with some food inspiration and a recipe.


Not That Kind of Girl:  A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

A thoughtful collection of explicit, candid, and sometimes amorous essays.  Each essay aims to express both the plight and luxury it is to live in Dunham’s shoes, but never apologetically.  For this reason, I truly enjoyed the book.  There were times, especially when I was feverish, when her necessity to amble on about how wonderful it was to be irresponsible and careless nearly made me woozy, but then I knew to set the book down and contemplate.  And that’s what her essays made me do, contemplate.  I ruminated over why her selfish attitude toward existence and success agitated me.  I thought about how I could relate and how I couldn’t relate in the slightest.  Finally, I thought about her bare honesty in reference to food, her dietary habits and struggles.  Lena seems to have the same love/hate relationship with food that I do, and this endeared me all the more to her writing.  She speaks about carefully documenting her meals and even has a few days excerpts from her food journal, which during the time of writing were top-secret.  A few favorite quotes.

“A friend once told me that when you’ve been in AA, drinking is never fun again.  And that’s how I feel about having seen a nutritionist–I will never again approach food in an unbridled, guilt-free way.  And that’s okay, but I think of those college years as the time before I was expelled from Eden.”

“Because I was little.  So Little.  Even though my favorite foods were:  Doritos. Steak. Sara Lee pound cake (preferably still half-frozen).  Stouffer’s French bread pepperoni pizzas, my Irish nanny’s shepherd’s pie, and huge hunks of goose liver pâté, eaten with my bare hands as a snack.”  “I wanted to taste it all.”



Lena was successful at passing on a nugget of wisdom or two and I am grateful to her.  I have had many thoughts and took notes about different meals I could make, and considering Lena was once on a plant-based diet, I did contemplate making something more restrictive, but in the heart of indulging, which I think is the one of the messages I took away from this book, I have decided to make one of my favorite recipes, Shepherd’s Pie–recipe posted on one of my previous Cinema Cuisine posts.  This is a salute to both her Irish nanny’s shepherd’s pie, and my Irish roots.  A perfect match for the cold weather and the finale of this book.  If you’re out there Lena, I’m sharing a square of this pie with you!



Join me in reading the next book on my list, Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis and we can chat along the way under the hashtag #noshedinabook  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,






Kitchen Letters #1: Creative start to 2014


Dear world,

How are you feeling?  Do you feel like 2013 was productive and revealing in some way?  Did you come closer to any big goals you set?

The first day of the year is a very special one, but also a day like any other.  Yesterday I awoke early–as I often do–my love still snoozing, our kitty was calm and as time passed throughout the morning small beams of light creeped into our living room where I sat at our dining/craft table.   I was in a quiet and harmonious state when an incredible urge to be creative came over me.

On the final day of 2013, I did what I like to call a cleanse, wherein I exercised my ability to purge our home of unnecessary items; clutter.  This was just one final day, out of many days like this in 2013, where I felt the need to extract unused items from our house.  My closest friend mentioned she had gone through these motions too and she said it helped to clear her mind, and that was a great way to put it.  I must say, on the 31st I may have outdone myself because by the time I was done sorting, tossing, recycling, cleaning, and organizing I was exhausted.

Now we’re back to yesterday.  With a cleansed home and mind I decided it was time to put to use some of my art supplies and move forward on two things I set as a goal for my winter vacation.  One, use art supplies, two, begin my recipe book.  I cleared off our table and took out all the necessary supplies.  In my organizing frenzy on the 31st I came across many underutilized notebooks and I decided I would start there.  Stacks of magazines, my recipes, glue, scissors and most importantly my mind were all sitting at the table, ready to go.  Snip, snip, snip.  After hours of cutting, gluing, precise placement and breaks to read and browse articles I had missed in the past, my very first recipe book was created.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

The final product.

The final product.

Up to this point, every time I have a recipe idea, I scramble to find a piece of scrap paper, a notecard, anything so the culinary creation isn’t lost forever.  Now, I have my book!

Yesterday I spent some time in my kitchen cleaning, preparing meals and resting while drinking a yummy tea creation I’ve made lately.  I reveled in my accomplishment of moving forward in my life as a chef and lover of food and all that it does for us.  It occurred to me while putting together my book that I spent much of the past year doubting.  I’m not proud to say that.  What I am proud to say is that I’m here, now, allowing myself the gift of trust.


My kitchen and my abilities in it and outside of it are something I should never doubt.  I should feel stronger every day for the creations I introduce to the world and I hope only to improve with grace as time carries on in 2014 and beyond.

Yesterday, I didn’t just create a book I created a chance.

Saw this little lady in the yard of one of my favorite houses on nature gathering walk.  What a beauty.

Saw this little lady in the yard of one of my favorite houses on a nature gathering walk. What a beauty.

I hope this letter finds you well, world.

Much love and gratitude,




New Year: Food for Thought (part 2)


HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!  I’m here this morning to top off the final six of my 12 foods, lessons, concessions, thoughts and ideas of 2012.  I’m a day late with this one, but here they are nonetheless!  Tell me what yours are if you can think of any.

7.  Soup:  Hot, brothy, or even creamy soups…what more can I say.  They ease digestion and help eliminate those pesky toxins whilst adding a savory treat to your palate.  My favorite lately, a simple miso (I vary the miso type) with wakame or dulse and these big straw like rice noodles, so deeeelish.  I was much more experimental in 2012 with soups, here’s hoping I make even more in 2013!

8.  Squash:  We have gone squash crazy this month, wherein I’ve prepared more dishes from squash than I thought possible.  What is more, most thick skinned squashes have a much longer ‘shelf-life’ than most other fruits and veggies, thus they sustained us when we hadn’t yet gone grocery shopping.  Best discovery, delicata squash.  I prepared a dish wherein I sautéed delicata squash with a gluten-free pasta, chickpeas and greens…savory and delicious.  This particular squash has a natural umami.  Most adored squash, butternut…I could eat this EVERY day.  Most fun squash, spaghetti!  Most underrated squash, pumpkin.

  1.  Tamales:  Yes, I started off the new year the correct way–for me that is–and I followed through with something I’ve wanted to do for years now, make tamales.  In fact, I finished off 2012 by making my first batch and started off the new year by amping up my filling.  With the help of my love, we made a killer batch of spinach, mushroom, black bean tamales, and then pumpkin black bean tamales.  They were both a hit, and tasted delicious!  This was another way for me to get closer to what I eat because oftentimes we’ll get fresh tamales at the market on the weekends, it was nice to have my heart and hands close to such a delicate and unique process.
Waits Spock Runner

Waits Spock Runner

  1.  Waits:  As some of you may know, my kittle’s name is Waits, and he has had an interesting food journey this year.  I felt a strong need to mention him in my top 12, mainly because I feel we often forget about how important the diet of those we are guardian’s to, is.  Waits started off the year eating the same hard food we’ve given him for a long time now, and then began to have issues with his gums and lil’ teeth. He’s also quite eccentric about how and from what source he will drink water.  Though some disagree, we, for a time, were feeding him wet cat food–to relieve the pain he was experiencing munching on hard food–and as we adopted him at an older age, he–in some previous life–must have been accustomed to eating either wild animals outdoors, or a strictly wet-food diet.  Then, post-cleaning, we transitioned him back to hard food, much to his dismay.  The great part about Waits’ food journey in 2012, is that we’ve discovered he loves nori, chickpeas and ALL salty foods, acorn squash, and almond milk.  We also found a way to peak his water interest.  With all of his food troubles this year there have been great revelations, so my  hope is to start preparing more out of the ordinary snacks for him…wahoo!

  2.  Oats:  Oh, what to say about Oats. :p  I mention these, mostly because they have been a breakfast standard for most of 2012.  We buy gluten-free whole rolled oats, and dress them up in all sorts of ways in the morning.  I don’t know where my morning appetite would be without oats!  Cool finding:  Blended oats with all my ‘fixins’ is rather scrumptious and a welcome texture change.

  3.  The Farmers’ Market:  Some of you may have previously read my post on why I like shopping at the farmers’ market, but regardless, I couldn’t leave the market off of my list because it has been a remarkable learning and growing experience for me.  I’ve come to understand even more, a sense of community I don’t think I truly understood before.  I’m getting to know some of the farmers and coming to understand their trade with more intimacy.  I tried to grow a few things in 2012, and hope to do more this year.  My weekend routine was not the same if I had to miss our market trip; thanks to SFC and everyone who has worked hard to keep these markets up and running.  Eating local has changed my life in many ways.

Again, thanks to everyone who made writing this blog in 2012, more special than I imagined.  With the multitude of blogs out there, if you’ve ever taken the time to read mine, I am truly appreciative.

And remember…bite responsibly!


Healthy and Happy New Year Vibes,




New Year: Food for Thought (part 1)


The year is only hours away from being just another recycled calendar so I thought it best to bestow upon the internet saturated world one more list of tops to help you consolidate your yearly conclusions.  This will be a first for me, but what will follow are my top 12 (in no particular order) foods, food thoughts, conclusions, lessons and the like for the year 2012. Without further adieu…

  1. Pizza, pizzzzzza, pizzer, peeetza:  Whatever your opinion on this Naples, Italy staple, pizza has played a significant role in 2012.  In fact, friends and I rang in the new year (2012) with homemade pizza topped with tomato sauce, onions, jalapenos, spinach, and a faux cheese brand, Daiya.  Our crusts have ranged from unbleached white crust (the naughtiest, but fullest of fluff crusts) to gluten-free (crispy, cracker-like crust).  Pizza has been a prominent foodstuff in many ways because for us, it has become both a treat that we treasure and a convenience that we appreciate.  Our bulk grain buying and muscle pumped ( :p ) arms have been given a true workout this year in the pizza making department as eachslicewas created with a labor of true love and devotion.  What’s more, we always make enough pizza dough to have a pizza crust stored in the freezer for later.  Additionally, I became rather fond of making homemade sauce.  Our pizza goals for the new year; more creative crusts (possible because of our new and much appreciated holiday gift of a pizza stone), tomato-free sauces (I’m already working on the recipe) and unique/experimental pizza topping ideas!

    Cathy Sparks Etsy

    Cathy Sparks Etsy

  2. Cleansing:  Whether this is something you do daily or occasionally for a full-body flush, cleansing is something I thought I knew everything about at the onset of 2012, but, like most of life, realizing I have much to learn has been such a relief.  It may sound rather strange, but it’s so comforting that I don’t know it all.  Coming to the close of another year, which for me (be it placebo or not) is a true marker of a new beginning, I’ve discovered so much about my body and how it responds to certain foods and how to truly cleanse. I know with confidence that with every day that passes I am one step closer to knowing nothing at all.  Ha, what a relief!  Maybe more than cleansing internally, I am cleansing mentally… letting go of mental road-blocks and archaic ideas in regards to food and how it will affect my body… cleansing has taken on a new meaning for me.  It’s not just a physical act, but emotional and mental too.
  3. Smoothie City:  This can’t be too much of a surprise to some of you who know me or read my blog regularly, but making smoothies has become a part of my food making routine and some flavas hold dietary dominance.  On my birthday this year I was given a Vitamix blender, which was quite possibly the best purchased gift I’ve ever been given.  Thanks go to my sweet loving man. <3  The two most prominent smoothies:  the green smoothie variety–I couldn’t live without you–and my protein, body-loving smoothie. Here’s how to make the latter! Ingredients:  2-2 1/2 cups unsweetened original almond milk, shake of cinnamon, two brown-buddy ripe (my phrase for extra-ripe) bananas, and 2 tbsp of the following:  flax meal (freshly ground), chia seeds, hemp seeds, cocoa powder.  [This is enough for two.]  Yumtastic to the max.  Connect with your food on a more visceral level with immediacy by liquefying.  The channels of nutrient delivery will burst wide open and your body will love you.  Thanks 2012 for this fantastic implementation only to be improved upon in 2013!
  4. Gluten-Free:  On day two of 2012 I was on a strict zero-gluten product diet.  This change didn’t carry 100% consistency throughout the entire year–though this was never my intention–but it did teach me a few things.  I’ve learned a great deal about what gluten does to our bodies and the role wheat, more specifically, has played in the history of food consumption.  It has occurred to me that replacements are not always necessary, nor are they a sound alternative to what you were previously eating.  Sometimes abstinence from a food texture in general, is not a bad thing. Forgoing teaches us discipline and appreciation.
  5. Self -Reflection:  Although I’ve already remarked on this topic to some degree, I thought it (self-reflection) deserved its own bullet.  An ongoing theme of growth for me this year has been to focus less on my surroundings and those individuals around me and focusing more on centering myself internally.  Working on myself from the inside out with an emphasis on what I consume, how I consume it and why I consume it has not been an easy journey for me this year, and it is no stretch to say at times it has been a struggle.  When I started this blog in March, I put all of myself into it, and with every post I have tried to imbue the purest form of gratitude possible towards food.  A goal for the new year/life, allowing myself the gift of truly experiencing food, however corny this may sound.
  6. Chamomile  and Hibiscus Mint Tea:    Without an unneeded amount of expansion on this topic, let me just say that if my body has reached an internal idea of its most perfect temperament, these two teas would be apart of the equation.  As my body tunes itself into a lovely melody, sipping on these lovely gems in my favorite tea-cup helps to pamper my mind and digestive system back into a state of ease.


Until 2013, I must depart.  I hope the onset of the new year finds you happy, healing and well.  Make sure to check-in tomorrow for the last 6!  And remember…bite with love, responsibly!

Healthy Regards,